Changing complexity in human behavior and physiology through aging and disease

Neurobiol Aging. 2002 Jan-Feb;23(1):1-11. doi: 10.1016/s0197-4580(01)00247-0.


Lipsitz and Goldberger proposed that there is a loss in the complexity of physiological and behavioral systems with aging and disease. Here, we show that this unidirectional view of the change in system complexity is too narrow in its consideration of the actual changes that occur with aging and disease. An increase or decrease in the complexity of a behavioral or physiological system output can occur and the direction of change is dependent on the confluence of constraints that channel the system dynamics. It is postulated that the observed increase or decrease in complexity with aging and disease is dependent on the nature of both the intrinsic dynamics of the system and the short-term change required to realize a local task demand.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Behavior / physiology*
  • Disease / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Neurological
  • Nervous System Physiological Phenomena*